BAR Aero Details
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While Steve Matchett prepared for and recorded his taped walkaround
of the BAR F1 car I took almost a roll of film. The flat black
carbon fiber materials don't show up well in some photos. Maybe
if I were a better photog!
I was surprised by the sculpted shapes of the front suspension
links. The changes in cross section are dictated by the rules
in some cases.
The rules change that raised the front wings has resulted
in higher angles of attack for the front airfoils and more plan-view
area to prevent loss of downforce at the front.
I think that projection on the side of the nose is an on-board
The front wing end plate does many jobs. The bottom extension
seals the underside. The vortex generator adds downforce and
creates turbulence that helps reduce tire drag and lift.
This view shows the pylon under the nose where the lower control
arms attach to the tub.
Would you look at that? They've obviously got a lot of people
and money. Having said that, these components influence the air
flow over them which then flows over everything downstream. The
goal is low drag, max downforce, and good flow into the cooling
ducting. Hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel fine tunes the
shapes of all this stuff.
That's the pitot tube on the nose just out of focus at the
bottom of the photo. Again notice the careful scupting of these
components, obviously all made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic
or CFRP. The spots of color inside the wheel are electrical connectors
for sensors, temperature and speed sensors I'd guess. I would
expect a bigger duct for air to the brakes but maybe they're
using a fan inside to pump cooling air.
This is another critical area for airflow management. Notice
the horizontal plane between the suspension links. The black
thing under the nose is the splitter, so called because it splits
the air into that going under the car and that going around the
car. The vertical vane with Sonix on it is called a barge board.
Air flows from high pressure areas toward low pressure. When
the car is moving from the front of the barge board to the back
side. Air also wants to flow along the length of the BB. So air
spills over the top and bottom edges generating swirls of air,
Another view of the barge board showing how the front edge
This view gives you a good look at the airflow path from the
front suspension links over the dive plane, around the barge
board and then either under the car, around the sidepod, or into
the cooling duct. Notice the metal ends on the pushrod. I assume
those are machined from Titanium. CFRP is very stiff and strong
but brittle so areas of high loading, like the ends of the links,
need to be metal. The teams have become very skilled at making
screwed and bonded CFRP-to-metal attachments. Finally, that copper
strip is there to electrically ground the car when it comes in
for a pit stop preventing sparks that could start a fire.
Those two aero doo-dads on the sidepod generate flows that
help L/D by influencing flows to the rear wing and over the rear
tires. That purple thing is a cover for the engine exhaust in
the top of the sidepod. The rear wing is a three-plane design
and the top plane is dual-airfoil.
For comparison look at the Benetton engine cover and notice
how much lower it is than the BAR. That's a result of the new
wide-angle V-10 produced by Renault. As a result the rear wing
might get less turbulent flow work more efficiently. A lower
center of gravity might be another benefit. Compare the aero
tweaks at the rear of the sidepod with the BAR. The rear wing
looks to be two-plane with the top dual-plane.
I asked an aero guy why the aero tweaks are so different on
all the cars. "The air's the same isn't it," I said.
"And the wind tunnel's can't be that different." He
told me each car is an aero system and small changes effect everything
around that change. Aerodynamicists have different models in
their heads about how the air flows around the cars and what
effects changes have. So, as a basic design develops the details
can diverge from similar designs done by different people.
The following explanation is incorrect. [Also notice the small
hole in the side of the airbox behind the drivers head. That's
required by the rules and prevents a power increase caused by
higher pressure engine inlet air due to ram effect at speed.
The hole just bleeds the higher pressure out of the air box.]
After I posted this page Ben Mitchell of technicalf1.com
sent me a message saying this hole was a requirement for emergency
lifting of the car. I checked the FIA rules and he's right. I
thought I had read about a hole for pressure equalization but
I guess not. Thanks, Ben!